Chase Banked On Nazis - Report

NY Daily News | December 07, 1998
By Corky Siemaszko

Chase National Bank the precursor of today's Chase Manhattan Bank allegedly helped the Nazis plunder Jewish property in France during World War II, according to a published report.

The New York-based bank controlled by the Rockefeller family closed Jewish accounts even before the Germans ordered them to do so and did business with the Nazis while they were sending Jews to the gas chambers, Newsweek magazine reports in this week's edition.

And while the U.S. was at war with the Nazis, Chase also apparently helped German banks do business with their overseas branches, the magazine reported.

Chase Manhattan is now the largest bank company in the U.S. with more than $300 billion in assets.

Chase general counsel William McDavid could not be reached for comment yesterday. But he told Newsweek that Chase intends to compensate Jewish account holders whose assets were illegally plundered.

But lawyers representing Holocaust survivors who have filed a class-action lawsuit against French and British banks that allegedly froze their accounts during the war intend to name Chase Manhattan to their lawsuit and are investigating the wartime role of another big U.S. bank, J.P. Morgan, the magazine reported.

While many other U.S. businesses and banks closed down their Paris operations after France fell to the Germans, Chase National remained open and even thrived.

The relationship between Chase and the Nazis apparently was so cozy that Carlos Niedermann, the Chase branch chief in Paris, wrote his supervisor in Manhattan that the bank enjoyed "very special esteem" with top German officials and "a rapid expansion of deposits," according to Newsweek.

Niedermann's letter was written in May 1942 five months after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the U.S. also went to war with Germany.

McDavid told Newsweek that Chase had little control over Niedermann's actions.

The revelation that a U.S. bank might be involved in the plunder of Jewish assets comes in the wake of an agreement by Swiss banks to compensate Holocaust survivors $1.25 billion for pillaging their savings.

Recently declassified documents revealed that at least 300 U.S. companies continued doing business in Germany during the war, Newsweek reported. And subsidiaries of Ford and General Motors have been accused of forcing thousands of Jews, Poles and others to work as slave laborers.